Steamboat Ski Area will launch season with new RFID passes, other upgrades |

Steamboat Ski Area will launch season with new RFID passes, other upgrades

Scott Franz

The new ski passes, which contain RFID technology that automatically open gates in lift lines, can be recycled and used again.

The new ski passes being handed out at the Steamboat Ski Area this week have the potential to speed up lift lines if skiers and riders remember to keep them away from their cell phones, credit cards and foil gum wrappers.

The passes are embedded with a technology called radio frequency identification, or RFID, which will automatically open gates and give skiers access to the lifts.

That means no more fumbling for ski passes to show to a lift agent armed with a handheld scanner.

“If you’ve ever gone skiing with kids, and you’re trying to fish out passes while also carrying skis, it’s not a very stress-free experience,” Sarah Metcalf, head of the ski area’s ticketing office, said Wednesday.

After months of task force meetings, replacing printers and reaching out to other ski areas for tips about the new technology, the ski area has completely phased out paper passes.

Metcalf said customers who have received the new passes are excited about the upgrade in technology.

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“People have been asking for this sort of thing for a while,” she said. “It’s been in Europe for a while. It’s just taken longer to catch on here.”

Ticket office agents are giving customers a quick briefing about the new passes and making sure they are aware of which items, including cell phones, can block the signal.

Introduction of the new passes, however, will not mean the end of ski area employees greeting skiers at the lift lines.

Staff members will still be on hand with an iPad that will display photos from the passes of the skiers going through the gates to ensure they aren’t using passes that don’t belong to them.

The new passes will also allow ski area guests to purchase another day of skiing by using their smartphones instead of waiting in line again at the ticket office.

Further, the passes now allow both season pass holders and day pass customers to attach their credit card information to the pass to make purchases at the resort.

New ski passes aren’t the only upgrades at the ski area this winter.

Other notable additions include new grooming machines that resurface 600 acres of terrain each night, new snowmaking lines, an expansion of Gondola Joe’s and the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s new Alpine training venue.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10